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U.S. REITs Making Headway on Sustainability

09/19/2013 | By Mitch Irzinski

Nils Kok, co-founder and director with Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB), joined REIT.com for a video interview at NAREIT’s headquarters in Washington.

GRESB recently released the results of its 2013 survey. Kok discussed the biggest surprise from the findings.

“Our biggest surprise is the continuous uptake of sustainability disclosure by REITs and funds around the world,” he said. “This year the response rate continued to increase to 550 companies and funds around the world, which, again, is a substantial increase since last year. It’s good to see more companies reporting, but, most importantly, we see that performance is increasing.  Performance is increasing as measured by GRESB scores, but performance is also increasing as measured by reduction in energy consumption.“

 

Kok described the results with regard to U.S. REITs and sustainability practices.

“U.S. REITs really seem to be leading the way when it comes to reducing energy consumption,” he said. “In part of the survey, we focus on your like-for-like change in energy consumption. What we see is that on average in the U.S., the reduction between energy consumption between 2011 and 2012 is 6.8 percent. That’s a big number, especially when compared to globally, where the average was 4.8 percent.”

Kok also talked about the use of GRESB data in the investment community.

“We see more and more large institutional investors starting to use the GRESB data,” he said. “Recent examples include CBRE Clarion Securities, Cohen & Steers, Townsend Group – so large REIT shareholders and investors that are using the GRESB data in both their due diligence and their investment process.”

Kok shared how companies can get involved in the GRESB survey going forward.

“For REITs that want to participate in the GRESB survey and the GRESB benchmark, the barrier to entry is fairly low,” he said. “There’s no cost involved, they can go online and download the survey, and they can log in and enter their answers and details.”